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Picture Perfect

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Alexander leaned against the door, his arms crossed over his powerful chest and a blank look on his stony face. The boy in front of him reached deep into his pockets and pulled out an ID that Alexander was sure was a fake. He looked at the piece of plastic, a sneer already budding over his handsome features, and a thin eyebrow raised. He glared at the blonde kid in front of him a moment, and then looked back at the picture. It was certainly a fake, but a damn good fake. The young man’s baby face was creamy, met with rosy cheeks due to the warmth pouring out of the club, and his gray eyes were piercing, but he was definitely under twenty one. He was an either old looking seventeen, or a young looking twenty, but in no way could Alexander accept the fact that this kid was born the date his license boasted.

“It’s fake. No way you’re twenty one.” Alexander said flipping the ID over to check the back. He wondered if it was one of their fake IDs. They were made for the young prostitutes who were just under the age of consent. If they ever were caught, it could be said they were guilty of prostitution, but not the prostitution of a minor.

“It’s not fake,” the kid snapped fussing with his black jacket. “I got it at the DMV after my driver’s test like everybody else. Now give it back and let me in.”

Alexander looked at him a moment and then back at the ID for the fourth time. He shook his head slowly, and could feel the eyes of, Caleb Reese according to the ID, but then that could also be fake, throwing daggers at him.

“Alek?” He called over his shoulder and a tall man came toward the front. He was bigger than Alexander, more meaty, but in no way more threatening. They both looked like thugs, and Alexander had a gleam in his eye that told Caleb he was dangerous. Alexander handed the big man the ID and heard Caleb huff. “I think it’s fake.”

Aleksey, known in public as Alek, looked at the picture on the ID and then back at the person in question. He spent more time looking at Caleb than the ID itself, and Caleb’s cheeks flushed even redder with outrage.

“Definitely. No way are you twenty one,” Alek said and reached into his black trench coat pocket. He pulled out a large pair of scissors and sliced the license in half. The kid, Caleb Reese, looked like he was about to explode. He actually brought his hands up to his blonde hair and pulled, something Alexander had only seen on TV. He would laugh at the kid, but Mr. Solovyov had given him very strict orders not to antagonize the patrons, even those he sent away.

“Are you crazy? That’s my license!” He yelled and snatched the two pieces of plastic from Alek’s hands. Caleb’s horror and anger was real enough, but Alexander thought it only had to do with him having to go out and find another fake ID. “This is unbelievable.”

Caleb’s eyes were wide and his mouth hung open slightly. He seemed to be genuinely distressed and looked around a moment at a loss. When he looked back at the two doormen only anger covered his young features.

“I’m really twenty one!” Alexander and Alex looked at each other a moment. He seemed genuine. “I want to talk to the manager.”

Despite the firmness in his voice Alek laughed.

“You can’t just talk to the manager,” he said flatly, like they were let this kid in to see Mr. Solovyov.

“You ruined my license. You know how much it costs to replace this? I’m not kidding. Bring me to him now.”

He set his jaw and his gray eyes hardened. Alexander sighed when he realized this kid would no doubt throw a little bitch fit if he did not get what he wanted and he happened to know that Solovyov was not exceptionally busy that night. He glanced at Alek, who let Alexander make the final call.

“Fine. Follow me,” He turned abruptly and Caleb followed, pushing through the crowds of people inside the club. He almost lost the asshole bouncer, who seemed completely unconcerned as to whether or not Caleb was actually following him or not.

“I expect to be paid back for that,” Caleb called over the pounding music, trying to keep up with Alexander’s long strides. Alexander ignored Caleb as he entered the club, the red lighting and loud techno music not doing well for his pounding headache. He avoided the dance floor walking around to the lounge area where men, mostly twenty seven and down, were into some heavy duty kissing. Caleb looked at the men with a large, eager smile and Alexander rolled his eyes. They approached a large room which was blocked off from the rest of the club with tinted windows. Alexander knocked on it twice with a single knuckle and waited. The door opened and a man in a dark suit stepped out. He whispered something to Alexander and went back inside.

“Come this way,” Alexander said walked along the back of the club until they came to a door. Caleb would never had known it was there had Alexander not gone straight to it and placed his hand on the door knob. Inside the second corridor you could barely hear the pounding music and the lighting was normal. No strobe lights to be seen. They walked down the hallway until they came to a door in the very back. Alexander again knocked and a deep Russian bark came from inside. Caleb felt his heart flutter slightly in fear and he wet his lips. This was certainly not part of the plan, but perhaps Slatkin would give him a bonus if he told him he had gotten into the Russian’s office and spoke to him personally. Caleb was broken from his thoughts when Alexander opened the door and stepped inside, grabbing Caleb by the collar and pushing him forward.

Caleb looked at the man behind the desk and his mouth went dry. His mind seemed to go dark and he momentarily forgot why he had even come. The Russian was the most gorgeous, and most terrifying man he had ever had the pleasure of laying his eyes upon. The man had pronounced cheekbones and a strong set jaw. His face was chiseled and masculine, but held an air of elegance that Caleb could admire. His hair was auburn, closer to brown than red, short and parted at the side neatly. He obviously spent a lot of time each day combing his hair. Caleb remembered seeing pictures of Iosef Petrov on TV and while that man looked handsome and dangerous, he could pass as a legitimate businessman. This Russian could not. Like the bouncer who had brought him in, who Caleb could only assume was related to him, given the amazing similarity between their facial expressions, looked mean as hell. He was leaning back in his chair, a hand resting on his desk, a pen in it as Caleb appraised him, is dark eyes harsh and questioning and staring right at Caleb.

“Can I help you?” He asked, his Russian accent sending a shiver down Caleb’s spine. It was thick, monotone, and the most terrifying thing Caleb had ever heard. What Caleb might have thought sexy, and damn were Russian accents sexy, he could only feel the trembling of his legs as he looked at him. It was not a struggle to even swallow, and the Russian looked at him with such venom, that Caleb wanted nothing more than to flee the scene.

“Um…no,” Caleb said and turned to walk out the door. Alexander grabbed him by the color of his pea coat and stopped him. Alexander’s dark brown eyes locked onto his, his face serious as sin. When he spoke he was so close that Caleb could smell his minty breath.

“I don’t interrupt him for nothing,” Alexander snapped and turned him around forcefully so he faced Solovyov. “He claims he’s twenty one sir, and demanded to see you when Aleksey cut his fake ID up.”

“It’s not fake,” Caleb snapped, finding some courage back. “See.”

He took a few tentative steps toward the Russian behind the desk and handed what was once his license toward the manager of the club. The man took it between his long, slender fingers and looked it over, holding the two pieces together. While he looked at it Caleb silently mused that he might have been a good piano player with fingers like those, had he not gone into the business of murder instead.

“Looks real to me,” Solovyov spoke and Caleb turned to give Alexander a dirty look. The man leaned back in his chair and pulled out his wallet. With two elegant fingers he took out a crisp one hundred dollar bill. “A little extra for your trouble.”

“That’s it?” Caleb asked, more offended then frightened at the moment. Alexander nearly balked at him, surprise and anger on his face. “It’s gonna cost me twenty bucks to get it replaced again, not to mention having to go down and spend all that time, and gas money, and all you give me is a hundred?”

“I’ll take him back Mr. Solovyov.” Alexander said and he grabbed Caleb by the collar. As he was dragging Caleb out of the room Solovyov spoke.

“Tell Sergei his drinks are free tonight,” Solovyov said and Alexander nodded.

“Yes, Sir,” Alexander said and shut the door.

“Pretty cheap boss you got there.” Caleb said neatly folding the one hundred dollar bill and putting it in his pocket. “I bet he has ten “G”s in there.”

“He is not idiotic enough to have that much money lying around.” Alexander said stiffly, not at all wishing to have any sort of conversation with the kid walking next to him.

“Ooh, Mr. Mob boss tell you that?”

“This club has no affiliation to any Mafia. Our money is in a safe and is deposited into the bank every morning.”

“Right…no mobsters running around?” The kid looked skeptical. “Whatever.”

Alexander ignored him. A moment passed and then Caleb spoke again, hoping to get a reaction. He knew the bouncer had to be related to Solvoyov some way, and could very well pass for his son, but he wanted to get as much information out of him as he could, and anger always seemed to rustle up the most genuine reactions from people.

“So, your boss is quite the hunk. Hit that yet?” He asked and watched Alexander scowl. “No, I bet he hits you.”

Caleb laughed and Alexander stopped walked and grabbed onto Caleb’s shirt.

“I am not a faggot!” He yelled, his eyes nearly on fire and Caleb felt his stomach drop to his knees. That he certainly was not expecting. His back ached from where he hat hit and he was silent a moment.

“Look, relax, I’m sorry,” Caleb said to Alexander. Alexander released him and they began to walk back down the hall.

“So, Solovyov is then… a “faggot”?” Caleb’s eyes were suddenly more alert and serious. To Alexander, he suddenly looked older than he was. With the expression on his face, a seriousness that Alexander had not seen before, he looked more mature. Alexander narrowed his eyes his eyes in suspicion.

“What are you getting at?” Alexander asked slowly.

“Nothing.” Caleb shrugged. “Just curious. He was hot. I’d let him plow me for sure.”

He meant that too. What was a quick fuck with a sexy Russian, mob boss or no?

“That’s it get out. Go dance or drink or whatever. I need to get back to work.” Alexander said snapping and pointing at the door.

“Sure you’re not gay? You’re cute. I’ll suck your dick for free.” Alexander scowled and pushed passed him to the door. Pounding music reverberated in his ears and he waited for Caleb to walk passed him.

“Fine, but you’re missing out. I give one hell of a blowjob,” Caleb said and disappeared onto the dance floor.

_

 

It was three a.m. when the club finally closed and Caleb slipped through the front doors avoiding Alexander’s eyes. He walked a block down the street before he opened and reached into his plain and unassuming car. Pulling his camera from behind the seat he waited a few moments for the crowds to disperse. He heard some drunken howling, some vulgar words screamed out into the air, and eventually silence. When the street became quiet again he slowly crossed the street and made his way back down to the club.

No gangsters stood outside and the lights flickered off. He looked around, his eyes darting around for anything suspicious. He leaned against the wall of a building across the street, doing his best to remain hidden. His black clothing helped him in that department. He normally would have added more color to his wardrobe, but as he left he had to remind himself that this was work, not play. He nearly gave up when he heard muffled voices from the alley next to the club. The space between the two buildings was narrow, but could fit a car between them and in fact it had. As Caleb slid down the building he could see a beautiful black BMW parked between the buildings. A dim light hung overhead and Caleb could clearly see men in suits exchanging brief cases.

“Fuck me.” Caleb murmured. “This is just like the fucking movies.”

He brought the camera to his eyes, and focusing, snapped the picture. He was a skilled photographer and was quite proud of the clarity of the images on such a dark night. A small nagging part of him, his survival instinct, told him to get up and leave, to quit while he was ahead. He couldn’t. His heart thudded in his chest and he felt like he was going to pass out. He clicked the camera over and over again, adjusting the focus with each snap. His pointer finger froze on the camera when he felt a strong hand clamp around his shoulder.

“Oh fuck,” he said and looked up at the scary looking man above him. “You guys are good.”

“And you’re dead.”

_

 

He was dragged over into the alley by a large bouncer Caleb had seen earlier in the night. His stomach was in his throat and in his toes at the same time and Caleb was glad he had not drank at all that night because he most certainly would have pissed himself. As they approached the voices in the alley stopped and looked toward them.

“Found him on the other side of the street. With this.” The bouncer said tossing the camera over to a tall man with blonde hair and blue eyes. Despite the firm hold he was in, Caleb brought up his hands and let out a small cry as the camera was tossed from the blonde man to another man with dark black hair. Had Caleb not been so terrified, for his life and his camera, he might have been able to recognize who it was he was about to address. Had he, he probably would have pissed himself.

“That’s very expensive,” He said. “Please don’t drop it.”

The man with dark hair looked up at him and his piercing blue eyes knocked the wind out of him. He flicked through the pictures and a wry smile covered his lips. He looked up at Caleb before he ripped the back off the camera. With graceful hands he pulled out the memory card and dropped the camera the ground. Caleb watched the lens shatter and the focus break off. A polished shoe kicked the camera down the alley way and Caleb looked up at the man in fear. The memory card was then snapped in half and Caleb could have cried.

“Oops,” The blue eyed man said with a cold smile and the others laughed. It was then that Caleb noticed Mr. Solovyov. He was standing only a few feet away from him, looking like he would kill Caleb with his abre hands. The anger and hatred in his eyes was palpable and Caleb shrunk against the man holding him, hoping to look smaller.

“It seems you need better security here, Grigori,” The blue eyed man said with a small smile.

“Seems you’re right.” Solovyov muttered. He did not say it was his idea to have the meeting inside, but Yakov’s to have it outside, where the world could see.

“Who do you work for boy?” The black haired man asked.

“I’m afraid I can’t disclose that information.” Caleb said stiffly, his mouth drying. The man let out a hearty, booming laughter.

“You’ve got guts, son. I like that. I really do. That doesn’t mean I won’t kill you. Now, I’ll ask once more. Who do you work for?”

“Slatkin.” He said and looked around at the different Russians. He would have rather told them he worked for the Italians. Many of the men scowled, and one spit onto the ground.

“What did he want?” the man’s voice was calm and almost amused, but Caleb knew not to let himself get to comfortable.

“He wanted me to get something on you guys. Anything. If I could prove anything sneaky was going on. I was supposed to give it to him.”

“Not to the police?”

Caleb was beginning to sweat.

“No. He said I had to bring it to him. Well. One of his guys at the book store on 8th and 5th.” He looked up at the men holding him and then at Solovyov who looked like he was in pain.

“Interesting. I have what I need here. Grigori take care of the boy, and for goodness sake,” The man in charge said with a teasing tone. “Try to make our next meeting a bit more secure. Do what you will with the boy. Come, along Yakov.”

Three men got into the BMW and pulled away. Caleb was still held prisoner by his coat and the reality of the situation was beginning to sink in. Solovyov was staring at him with a calm, controlled exterior, but judging by the red ring that circled his eyes and the way his breath was leaving his nose in loud pants he had a rage inside him that was just waiting to break through.